5 Reasons Why HR Must Use Behavioural Interview Questions

Recruitment Strategies
30 Nov 2023
5 Reasons Why HR Must Use Behavioural Interview Questions

In the ever-evolving landscape of HR practices, one approach that has gained significant traction is the use of Behavioural Interview Questions. These questions delve deep into a candidate’s past experiences, probing not just their skills but their ability to apply them in real-world scenarios.

In this article, we’ll explore the essence of behavioural interview questions, their importance, and the numerous benefits they bring to the hiring process. By the end, you’ll be convinced why these questions should be an indispensable part of your HR toolkit!

What Are Behavioural Interview Questions?

Behavioural interview questions are a specific type of interview question designed to uncover a candidate’s past behaviour in various work-related scenarios. Unlike traditional interview questions that often ask candidates how they would handle hypothetical situations, behavioural questions demand candidates to recount actual experiences from their past.

These questions typically begin with phrases like “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…” and are focused on specific competencies or skills relevant to the job. The idea behind behavioural interview questions is to gain insights into how a candidate has previously acted in certain situations as a way to predict their future behaviour in similar work settings.

The core elements of behavioural interview questions include:

  • Situation: Candidates are asked to describe the situation or context in which the past experience occurred. This sets the stage for understanding the circumstances in which the candidate had to make decisions or take action.
  • Task: Candidates outline the specific task or challenge they were faced with in that situation. This helps the interviewer understand the nature and complexity of the problem or responsibility.
  • Action: Candidates explain the actions they took in response to the situation and task. This part of the response highlights the candidate’s problem-solving skills, decision-making abilities, and the steps they took to address the challenge.
  • Result: Candidates describe the outcomes or results of their actions. This allows interviewers to assess the impact of the candidate’s behaviour and actions. It also helps in gauging the candidate’s ability to learn from their experiences.

In essence, behavioural interview questions aim to provide a structured approach to evaluating a candidate’s skills, competencies, and suitability for a particular role. They offer a more reliable and objective way of assessing a candidate’s qualifications compared to hypothetical or theoretical questions. This structured approach is particularly valuable in today’s competitive job market, where making the right hiring decision is crucial for an organisation’s success.

Why Use Behavioural Interview Questions?

Behavioural interview questions have gained immense popularity in the world of HR and recruitment for several compelling reasons. Let’s explore five key advantages of using these questions in your hiring process.

1. Enhanced Predictive Validity

Behavioural interview questions are renowned for their ability to predict a candidate’s future job performance. By focusing on actual past experiences, these questions offer a window into how a candidate is likely to behave in similar work situations. This predictive validity is invaluable as it minimises the risk of making costly hiring mistakes. When you can rely on a candidate’s past actions as an indicator of future performance, you’re more likely to choose the right fit for your organisation.

2. Objective Evaluation

One significant challenge in the hiring process is ensuring objectivity. Traditional interview questions often leave room for interpretation and subjectivity, making it difficult to compare candidates fairly. Behavioural questions, on the other hand, provide a structured framework for assessing candidates. Since all candidates are asked the same set of questions, it becomes easier to evaluate and compare their responses objectively. This objectivity is essential in eliminating bias and ensuring a fair assessment of all candidates.

3. Skill Assessment

Behavioural interview questions excel at assessing a candidate’s skills. While hypothetical questions can reveal a candidate’s theoretical knowledge, behavioural questions demand tangible evidence of their abilities. Candidates must draw upon real-life examples to demonstrate their skills, giving HR professionals a clearer picture of their capabilities. Whether it’s problem-solving, leadership, communication, or any other relevant skill, behavioural questions provide a robust platform for skill assessment.

4. Cultural Fit Assessment

Every organisation has its unique culture, values, and work environment. Behavioural interview questions can be tailored to assess a candidate’s fit within this cultural context. By asking about past experiences related to teamwork, conflict resolution, or leadership, HR professionals can gauge how well a candidate aligns with the company’s values and work culture. This ensures that new hires are not only skilled but also harmonious additions to the team.

5. Improved Engagement and Candidate Experience

Traditional interviews often follow a question-and-answer format, which can feel more like an interrogation. Behavioural interviews, in contrast, are more like conversations. Candidates appreciate the opportunity to share their experiences and skills. This interactive approach makes the interview process more engaging, leading to a positive candidate experience. A positive experience can leave a lasting impression on candidates, regardless of whether they are ultimately selected, which can be beneficial for your organisation’s reputation.

How to Develop Behavioural Interview Questions

Developing effective behavioural interview questions requires careful planning and consideration. Here are three steps to help you create impactful questions that will yield valuable insights during the hiring process:

1. Identify the Key Competencies

Before crafting behavioural questions, you need to identify the key competencies and skills required for the job. Review the job description, talk to hiring managers, and consider the company’s values and culture. Determine the essential qualities that a successful candidate should possess. These competencies will form the basis of your behavioural questions.

2. Formulate Specific Questions

Once you’ve identified the key competencies, create specific questions that target those areas. Each question should start with a phrase like “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…” followed by the competency or skill you want to assess. For example, if you’re hiring for a leadership role, you might ask, “Tell me about a time when you had to lead a team through a challenging project. What were the challenges, and how did you address them?”

3. Structure the Questions Using the STAR Method

To ensure a structured response from candidates, use the STAR method as a guide. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Instruct candidates to describe the Situation they were in, the Task they needed to accomplish, the Actions they took to address the situation or task, and the Results or outcomes of their actions. This framework provides a clear and comprehensive picture of the candidate’s past behaviour.

How to Analyse and Evaluate Candidates’ Responses

Once you’ve asked your carefully crafted behavioural interview questions, the next critical step is to analyse and evaluate the candidate’s responses. Here are five steps to effectively evaluate and assess candidate responses:

1. Active Listening

During the interview, practise active listening. Pay close attention to the candidate’s responses, and take notes if necessary. Ensure that you are fully engaged in the conversation. This will help you accurately capture the details of their experiences and actions.

2. Assess the STAR Framework

Remember the STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) that you instructed candidates to follow in their responses. Analyse their answers based on this framework:

  • Situation: Evaluate the context in which the candidate’s experience took place. Understand the circumstances and challenges they faced.
  • Task: Assess the specific task or responsibility the candidate had in that situation. This helps you gauge the complexity of the role.
  • Action: Evaluate the candidate’s actions and decision-making. Look for details on how they approached the situation, the steps they took, and the strategies they used.
  • Result: Consider the outcomes and results of the candidate’s actions. Did their actions lead to a positive outcome? What did they learn from the experience?

3. Align with Key Competencies

Compare the candidate’s responses to the key competencies and skills required for the job. Determine how well their experiences and actions align with the job’s demands. Look for evidence that the candidate possesses the qualities essential for success in the role.

4. Probing Follow-up Questions

If a candidate’s response is vague or lacks depth, don’t hesitate to ask probing follow-up questions. These questions can help you uncover more details and gain a better understanding of the candidate’s thought process and decision-making abilities. For example, you might ask, “Can you provide more specifics about the challenges you faced during that project?”

5. Consistency and Patterns

As you interview multiple candidates, look for consistencies or patterns in their responses. Are certain qualities or behaviours recurring in the responses of strong candidates? Conversely, are there any red flags or areas where candidates consistently fall short? These patterns can be valuable in your evaluation process.

It’s essential to create a structured evaluation rubric or scoring system to objectively assess and compare candidates’ responses. This system can help you assign numerical or qualitative scores to each response, making it easier to determine the most suitable candidate.

In conclusion, using behavioural interview questions is a strategic move for any HR professional. They offer enhanced predictive validity, ensure objective evaluation, assess skills and cultural fit, and provide a more engaging candidate experience. Integrating these questions into your hiring process can significantly improve your ability to select the right talent for your organisation.

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Debby Lim

As the practice leader of RecruitFirst Indonesia, Debby brings to the table over 13 years of industry experience.